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June 9, 2014

I think it’s time for the hoi polloi otherwise occupied with “Buds and Broads” (as some put it) to pay some attention to our continuing loss of democracy. My complaint is not just some academic sort of thing; it has real world consequences for all of us (see 1984 and Brave New World which, though imaginative, could well describe our own “brave new world” in important respects). Beer and willing women could be one of many diversionary means (however peripheral) employed by the Roves and today’s Hannas to obscure such a burgeoning reality in their well-financed lust for power (and money). We could be headed for a societal remake that would make Stalin’s reign look like a gentle democracy.
Perhaps I am going too far with my oft-stated fear of corporate takeover of America via runaway acquisition of the world’s (and our) assets, but when I look at our Gilded Age and today’s lemming-like move to the edge of the cliff (not to mention Piketty’s history of the Belle Epoque in France) behind a sea of propaganda paid for by our putative dictators, I think not. My concern is sincere and is not motivated by my democratic liberalism; it is bigger than that.
There is a difference in mere agitation for better wages, working conditions, health care etc. and an undergirding and fundamental restructure of American society to fit the corporate model of unrestrained greed (under cover of “free trade,” “free enterprise” and other such myths designed to provide moral cover for corporate takeover of our democracy). We proved during the Great Depression that we can withstand widespread poverty for a time; what we haven’t had to prove as of yet is whether we can withstand total corporate ownership and control of our society by our new masters.
The protagonist Smith had difficulty in living with dictatorship in 1984 (though Orwell was rather hazy in describing Big Brother’s grounds for takeover). Here today we have those who are enabling looming corporate takeover and are so enamored and propagandized that they believe the corporate myths that cover the final looting of our democracy. These are by and large good people but brainwashed and undiscerning. They apparently have been led to believe that the corporate and banking culture is their friend in an arguable case of “Stockholm Syndrome” in which they are not yet captive (but on the edge as our democracy wanes).
Putative destroyers of our democracy (the corporate and banking culture) have done a good job in manufacturing pretended issues for intake by the gullible, as I noted in the cognitive scientist Lakoff’s insights on bi-conceptualism in one of my recent posts pointing out that some can – inconsistently enough – visualize the propriety of both sides of an issue simultaneously – to which he attributes votes by conservatives for Republicans, i.e., corporate and banking candidates, even though such voters agree with liberals on the issues! These bi-conceptual and otherwise good people number in the millions who can somehow justify voting against their own interests in favor of the interests of their putative captors!
The fundamental philosophical conundrum (beyond issue-by-issue political and economic treatment) is whether democracy and government by corporate means can coexist. They cannot; they are inherently antithetical. If you have one, you cannot have the other. Justice Brandeis’s observation was correct.
This does not mean that in the best of worlds we should banish corporations from their proper role in the economy; it rather means that they should be restricted to their proper roles of conducting business and leaving government to the people in keeping with the Athenian model of democracy.
After all, it is our country, not theirs; our market, not theirs; our freedoms, not theirs. Who are they to undermine what we bled and died for? They are mere participants (not owners) in the American experience as a democratic nation state. We did not bleed and die for corporate freedom to make a buck and run roughshod over America and its people; we bled and died for human freedom, our own, whether warring with an English king or madmen fascists or others who would end our democratic right to self-rule. (On a personal note, the time I spent in the South Pacific in WW II was for America and in defense of our democracy, not for Wall Street greed and certainly not for a corporate takeover of America. I did not see any Wall Street greedmongers or paper shufflers on the beach there where one of my old hometown friends, a Marine, bled and died for democracy.)
As I have often blogged, our most precious national asset is our democracy, and one of the last things worth dying for. To those who would take our democracy, whether they be from without or within: take note. GERALD E


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